I’ve been stewing over Councilman Jack Weiss’ statement about the inherent dangers of biking in Los Angeles ever since I read it in a post by Eric Richardson on Blogdowntown that reported on a Feb. 12 joint City Council committees meeting about how the city can better plan for bicycles. In the post, Richardson wrote that Weiss said “he rides daily before sunrise, but doesn’t feel it safe to ride L.A. streets during the day.” To be sure it’s a throw-away comment that better people can just let go, but this one that landed in my craw and stuck there.
I’m not going to dispute Weiss’ blanket impression of the risks out there on the asphalt, but as someone who regularly does “ride L.A. streets during the day” (and night) I can’t help but wonder from what experience he draws upon to fire such a loaded statement. I’d hazard the answer is: little to none. Sure, he may indeed rise before dawn every day and pedal around whatever neighborhood he lives in, but the idea of Weiss having biked to work seems only slightly less remote than that of our absentee mayor what’s his name cranking it across town from Hancock Park to City Hall.
I know there’s danger out there. As such I ride trying never to forget that I’m only as safe as the least attentive/considerate motor vehicle operator around me, and I know that my comfort level with the streets and the traffic and the rugged ragged road conditions is developed from some 20 years of commuting experience — most of it entirely uneventful. I also know that comfort level is the exception and not the rule. But unlike Weiss tossing off the same ol’ conventional doom ‘n gloom that can be discouraging to anyone considering cycling (or frustrating to those of us who do), it’s at least from a couple decades accumulated experience that I can say I feel pretty safe riding the streets of the city, under the sun or moon.
Like today. And tonight. As evidenced in this quick ‘n dirty sequence of snaps taken via handlebar cam on my morning and evening commutes; a total of 30 miles (I even took the long way home up into a bit of Weiss’ territory, just as a neener). I did it yesterday. I’ll do it tomorrow. You could do it, too. And so could you, Jack.
See you on the streets!